Spelljammer: Chaos Rising
The Tale of the Lucky Coin
“The Lucky Coin?” the old peasant asked — rhetorically, as I had just specifically asked him about it. He stroked a long beard that might have been snow white had it not been infused with a few decades’ worth of dirt. His gaunt body seemed on the verge of just giving up and deciding
it was better off as a pile of knobby sticks. And he slowly, ever so slowly, rocked back and forth on the front porch of his rickety excuse for a house while he considered my simple inquiry. “Ayup, I know a tale or two about it,” he eventually drawled, the words creaking from his mouth
at roughly the same pitch made by his badly-patched rocking chair. “Well, do you think you could share with me some of those tales?” I provided, trying hard not to get impatient.
I had spent a great deal of time in taverns that I would normally prefer not to patronize in order to learn of this man’s alleged knowledge of the Coin. He looked at me with
eyes that were surprisingly dark, and for a moment I wondered if I had just been rude to a disguised wizard or something. But the moment passed, to be replaced by a glazed stare, as if focused on something far away. He rocked some more, and then he spoke.
“The Lucky Coin ain’t yer ordinary magical doodad, no sir. It’s got some kick in it. The best thing you could ever do yerself there is to find it and hold on to it as long as you can.
That there Coin is pure power.” My heart jumped; this was the kind of information I had been looking for. The old-timer continued, “Now, where the Coin was created, no one right knows, but the first time I ever heard of it was when Old Man Tooker found it while plowing his cornfield. He found that Coin, and decided what the heck, he was gonna bring it down to the tavern and bet
it on a hand of cards. And don’t you know, by the end of the week he was rolling in platinum pieces.”
“So the Coin worked? It brought him luck?” I asked.
“Yup, sure did,” the old man creaked, “and after he died in that unseasonable hurricane, his widow used the Coin too. She was able to really rake it in, until, of course, she was devoured by griffons.”
“How about adventurers? Warriors, or wizards like myself? Do you know any tales of them using the coin?”
I hoped by prodding him he could answer my true question: Would this Coin aid me in my quest to defeat the Dark Overlord Lorquatz?
“Oh, sure, plenty. Widow Tooker’s niece took the Coin next, and after the shed fell on her it was taken up by a warrior, like you said. A real tough guy, went by the name of Red-Eyed Pete. He used to carry the Coin with him in battle, said it helped him fight, and boy howdy, you’d
believe it when you saw him. It’s like every swing of his axe was spot on target. It’s a shame what happened with that potion, though. If someone’s gonna put green slime in a potion vial, they oughta label it proper.
“So after Pete’s flesh liquefied, a young sorceress named Lyria got the Coin. She would say that she used it to help her cast her spells right powerful. And after the rabid gophers finished stripping her bones, the rogue Dirian found it. Now, they didn’t find much left of him to figure
out how he died, but the next guy, a bard, actually just caught on fire one day. Burned up right in front of the whole town! Strangest thing.
“Then there was that monk got suffocated by locusts, and the barbarian who fell down the stairs and broke his neck, and the psionicist that was impaled on that statue, and the paladin who was crushed by the wildebeest stampede, and the—
“Wait, wait, wait,” I said. “Has anyone ever used this Coin and not died a sudden and improbable death?”
“Well, of course, sonny!” the old man cackled, “I sure haven’t, and I’ve had it for years!” His decrepit hand shook as it pulled out an ugly copper coin from his purse. My eyes were suddenly filled with visions of defeating the hated Lorquatz in battle; to my shame, I lunged for
the Coin. Oddly, while I was certain I’d been standing on solid ground, I suddenly found the steps to his porch beneath me, and an uneven plank spontaneously jutted out, causing me to stumble and grasp only air.
“Hey!” the old man howled, “Don’t you try to take my coin from me! It’s mine! Only I can—“ At this point, his words were cut short by a dreadful moaning noise as the entire frame of his house — knocked loose by my misstep — collapsed on top of him. Timber and dust flew everywhere, and only a quickly chanted spell protected me from the brunt of the destruction. The old man, or what was left of him, was indistinguishable from the wreckage.
The copper coin silently rolled on its edge from beneath a splintered crossbeam until it stopped before me, clattering down casually within my grasp. It was untouched by the devastation. The power of the Lucky Coin was mine for the taking, and I stood and stared for a long time at
its tarnished form in the dirt at my feet.
In what I choose to think of as one of my wiser moments, I decided that there must be other paths to defeating the Dark Overlord, and I turned and walked away.